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As Hartford Stadium Falters, Yard Goats Have Plan to Play First Month on the Road

The first game for the Yard Goats is scheduled for April 7.

Josh Solomon, the owner of the minor league Hartford Yard Goats, said Tuesday that his team will not play in a stadium that is substantially incomplete, and that his team has a Plan B to play the first month of its games on the road.

Frustrated members of the Hartford Stadium Authority, including new Mayor Luke Bronin, met Tuesday to figure out the latest controversy in the stadium's construction.  

Before the new year, the developer DoNo Hartford LLC told the city that it would need another $10 million over the approved $56 million to build the stadium the city wants. The developer has said that's because the city didn't give it full control of the project, and because the city wanted a more expensive stadium than originally drawn.  

The developer also said that the city breached its contract, but the city has strongly disagreed.  According to the authority Chairman I. Charles Mathews, there is an agreement to build a stadium for $56 million. And that is that.

Meanwhile, the city's representative on the project told the authority that there was a "low probability" that the stadium would be substantially complete by March 31.  The first game is scheduled for April 7.

Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR
Tuesday's meeting of the Hartford Stadium Authority ripped the scab of the tensions between the city, its stadium developers, and minor league baseball.

Here’s how I. Charles Mathews, the chairman of the stadium authority, put it at Tuesday's meeting: "Time is important. I think we do have to give the Eastern League and the ball team a date certain and we can't do that as we speak. So I do think we're in jeopardy of not playing ball in 2016 if we can't nail this thing down sooner rather than later."

Meanwhile, the developers at DoNo Hartford LLC say they're willing to contribute to help fix the problem. But it's not going to be an easy negotiation.

"We're not going to write out a check for a problem that we firmly and confidently could look ourselves in the mirror every morning and feel that we didn't cause," said DoNo's Bob Landino.

The city rejects Landino's position, but both sides say they need to work together to find a solution before more lawyers have to get involved. Meanwhile, all of this was horrible news for Joe McEacharn, who runs minor league baseball's league Eastern League. He was visibly upset, said he was lied to, and said that baseball may not be played in Hartford on April 7, but it will be played.

"And I will have a plan for all 142 games in the Eastern League," he said.  "And it might be painful and it might not work. But, I'll tell you what. That pain is going to be shared. And there's a day of reckoning."

It's not clear what that means, but it’s also not clear what the next steps will be. That may be up to Mayor Luke Bronin. This is a problem he inherited in his first week in office.  

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